I woke up this morning far earlier than normal because I had thought of a line for a poem, "Sound the chorus flame," which sounds kind of cool, and then suddenly my mind raced to add on to it. This happens to me frequently enough that I know not to sit around only to forget later and regret I hadn't written stuff down. Since poetry has been more or less relegated to a secondary status in my life for the past few months, I knew I had to get up out of bed to write down the lines.
On this particular morning, however, another more urgent and excited notion came to mind: the lines would perfectly suit a four-part Christmas poem that I failed to finish two years ago. I had promised my fellow seminarians that with each passing week in Advent two years ago that a new part of the poem would be completed. A rough draft of each part, at least. The problem, of course, was that I tried writing the poem during Advent... which means that I was also in the middle of preparations for final exams and, at the time, for the Christmas Eve service at the church I interned at. Needless to say, only Part I ever saw the light of day, and Part II just needed some more tender-loving care. I never gave Part II that little extra push because, while writing it, I came to realize the hopelessness of the project. I can't say it was any good, but I want to say that I wrote a four-part poem. You aren't a poet unless you write a multi-part poem. That's a known fact.
Anyway, the point of the whole matter is that I can only use the lines that I had thought of this morning to add on to my Advent poem if I can find the original poem. There's no sense writing part of this poem when I don't know how it will fit in. So after writing down the lines I searched my computer for old files aaaaaaaand... turns out the Advent poem is one of those that I never saved on my computer. Not a problem, really, because that just means it's in my yellow folder aptly labeled, "Poems."
Then I realized that, unfortunately, this is a problem. First of all, I'm not home. I didn't bring my poems folder with me; I never do while traveling because I never think that I'll be working on them. My parents, bless their hearts, are good enough to look for and send me the poem in question, of course. Yet therein lies the rub, or whatever the saying is: I can't be absolutely sure where in the folder the poem is or what the title is, or if I titled it. I know that I had been intending to title the poem something along the lines of, "A Journey Echo," or anything with echo, but whether or not that found its way onto the pages I used is another question. And clearly my "Poems" folder does not include only poems. When I moved back home I stuffed loose papers into the folder hoping to organize everything after returning home. Obviously I haven't gotten around to it yet. The bottom line is that I'd feel terribly rude asking my parents to look for the poem when I'm nearly certain it would take me at least half an hour to find, and I'd have the advantage of knowing what to look for.
You see, kids, organization is key. Want to be a writer or an artist and think that your lazy housecleaning and organizational habits fit the bill? Wrong. Well, maybe right. There's definitely a strain of stereotype--and perhaps prototype--that says writers just write on whatever they can find and then throw it in the mix. If the point of being a writer is to write then there's nothing inherently wrong with that stereotype; in fact it is rather encouraging and motivating. On the other hand, if the point of being a writer is to speak to the masses, then the stereotype is no longer helpful, unless you have a secretary. Maybe sometime in the near future I'll have a secretary. Until then, I'm now realizing how worthwhile it is to organize.
For me, organization has never been more than an idea. I have a two-drawer cabinet with folders labeled, "Important," "Miscellaneous," "Finances," and "Correspondence" (two of these are filled and three more are waiting). I also have a little shelf with all of my old journals and soon-to-be-used journals, copies of the Wesley Journal from when I was assistant editor and some other copies, a folder with all of my older and completed writing, and then folders labeled, "In Progress/Research," "Translations" (for Greek, mostly), "Poems," and "Ideas/Outlines." All of these folders serve a purpose and I'm glad that I have them. I also have an organization system for my books spanning three rooms of the house for which I am also thankful for because it makes it easy to find the books that I want. But my personal library is perhaps the best example of how organization has just been an idea to me: books are now strewn all over my room because I ran out of shelf space and I haven't bothered putting any books back, so that the books that do have a place can live in solidarity with the books that don't have a place. Most of the problem is that when I organized my system I misjudged how much room I'd need and want for some of the sections, namely philosophy and literature. It's a mess. As is all my other glorious attempts at organization, because though I have the tools necessary to be well-organized I simply haven't taken the time to actually be well-organized.
Kids, take the time to be organized. You don't have to be neat, but if you want to be good at any type of self-employment, some serious organization will go a long way.